A Systematic Review of the Effects of Neuromodulation on Eating and Body Weight: Evidence from Human and Animal Studies

Jessica McClelland*, Natali Bozhilova, Iain Campbell, Ulrike Schmidt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

BackgroundEating disorders (ED) are chronic and sometimes deadly illnesses. Existing treatments have limited proven efficacy, especially in the case of adults with anorexia nervosa (AN). Emerging neural models of ED provide a rationale for more targeted, brain-directed interventions.

AimsThis systematic review has examined the effects of neuromodulation techniques on eating behaviours and body weight and assessed their potential for therapeutic use in ED.

MethodAll articles in PubMed, PsychInfo and Web of Knowledge were considered and screened against a priori inclusion/exclusion criteria. The effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), transcranial direct current stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) and deep brain stimulation (DBS) were examined across studies in ED samples, other psychiatric and neurological disorders, and animal models.

ResultsSixty studies were identified. There is evidence for ED symptom reduction following rTMS and DBS in both AN and bulimia nervosa. Findings from studies of other psychiatric and neurological disorders and from animal studies demonstrate that increases in food intake and body weight can be achieved following DBS and that VNS has potential value as a means of controlling eating and inducing weight loss.

ConclusionsNeuromodulation tools have potential for reducing ED symptomatology and related behaviours, and for altering food intake and body weight. In response to such findings, and emerging neural models of ED, treatment approaches are highly unlikely to remain brainless'. More research is required to evaluate the potential of neuromodulation procedures for improving long-term outcomes in ED.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberN/A
Pages (from-to)436-455
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Eating Disorders Review
Volume21
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013

Keywords

  • eating disorders (ED)
  • anorexia nervosa (AN)
  • bulimia nervosa (BN)
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
  • transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)
  • vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)
  • deep brain stimulation (DBS)
  • TRANSCRANIAL MAGNETIC STIMULATION
  • DEEP BRAIN-STIMULATION
  • VAGUS NERVE-STIMULATION
  • OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER
  • RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED-TRIAL
  • VENTROMEDIAL HYPOTHALAMIC-STIMULATION
  • TREATMENT-RESISTANT DEPRESSION
  • PARKINSONS-DISEASE PATIENTS
  • SELF-REGULATORY CONTROL
  • SHAM-CONTROLLED TRIAL
  • Acknowledged-BRC
  • Acknowledged-BRC-13/14

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